What a year for Europe! By Caroline Dollman

In 2015, Global Citizen launched in Europe, making the movement’s collective voice for change even louder on the global stage. From music events in Munich, to getting the European Commission to pledge half a billion euros to refugees, it’s safe to say we’ve seen some fantastic and life-changing things happen from the continent over the past 12 months.

We always knew that 2015 was going to be a massive year, with historic summits, elections, global treaties popping up left right and centre – but wow, I don’t think any of us realised quite how big we were talking. Here’s a quick recap of everything we have achieved together in Europe in 2015.

UK Aid: We liked it so we put a law on it

We kicked off the year in spectacular style by enshrining the amount of money the United Kingom will spend on overseas aid into law. You may remember that there was a proposal put forward – the “Private Members Bill” (catchy name huh?) which proposed the nation protect its commitment to spend 0.7% of our Gross National Income (GNI) on international aid.

Global citizens got together with all the other great campaigning organisations in the sector and we made sure that every MP we could reach would vote in its favour – and it worked! This means the UK aid budget is protected, so the government is able to focus on the quality of aid given, rather than having to battle for the amount spent. Hooray!

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$1bn pledged toward life saving vaccines

So once the UK aid budget was sorted, Global Citizen got straight to work in making sure the money was being spent in the right way. In January 2015, Global Citizen worked with our friends at Results UK, ONE and Save the Children to secure $1 billion USD from the UK government toward GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance. Why is this important? Well, in a nutshell, by ensuring that GAVI is adequately funded, they can continue their proven and important work to ensure every child is reached, no matter where they are born, with live-saving vaccines to stop preventable child deaths.

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Global Citizen gibt es jetzt auch in Deutschland!

Sorry, sometimes I just slip into German these days – one of our biggest and best successes this year was to launch Global Citizen in Germany, providing a platform for campaigning at the European level.

Our first big step was to set up a German version of the Global Citizen platform, so if you’re a German speaker (or know someone who is), tell them to check it out – schnell!

You may also remember that the G7 was hosted at Schloss Elmau in Germany this year. So with our new German wing, Global Citizen hosted our first event, United Against Poverty, which brought thousands of global citizens together on the Königsplatz in Munich to call on the G7 to take important steps toward ending extreme poverty. The most notable outcome was the G7 leaders committing to lift 500,000 people from hunger – now global citizens just need to make sure they follow up (and you’ve guessed it – that’s exactly what we’ll be doing in 2016)!

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We ate and drank on £1 a day for 5 days, raising £750,000 GBP to combat extreme poverty

Meanwhile, in the UK, over 6000 people took on the Live Below the Line challenge, raising a whopping quarter of a million pounds and changing the way we think about and act on poverty. Living on the equivalent of £1 GBP a day is a harsh reality for 1.2 billion people in the world today and is exactly why Global Citizen exists – to fight the systems and rules that allow this to happen.

Live Below the Line challenges groups and communities to eat and drink on £1 a day for 5 days, not to replicate what it’s like (because we could never, nor would we want to do that), but to bring the issue to the forefront, and to fundraise to for some of the best UK charities fighting poverty across the world.

The Live Below the Line campaign will be back in 2017 after an exciting make-over.You can register your interest here to be the first to know when we’re back.

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We got to grill Bill Gates

We were joined at Facebook HQ by the one and only Bill Gates to talk about how we can end extreme poverty and the role we all have to play as global citizens. Hosted by the lovely Greg James from Radio 1, we heard thought-provoking questions from global citizens in the room, celebrities via social media, and young people from Mexico, Kenya, India via video link (how’s that for modern technology?). We were delighted to hear Bill Gates conclude the event with these words: “Global Citizen is the idea that all humanity matters. What we want is people’s voices. Your voice is the most important thing”.

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The Global Citizen Festival: Europe stood up for refugees and girls’ education 

There were many stars on the stage of the Global Citizen Festival this year – Beyoncé, Michelle Obama, Coldplay, Ed Sheeran, Big Bird, Leo DiCaprio, Malala and loads more. They were joined by 60,000 people in New York’s Central Park, and watched by an online global audience of millions, who collectively took 2.7 million campaigning actions in order to secure the 27 commitments announced on stage. These commitments – from governments, institutions and businesses – are set to affect the lives of 92 million people.

You know who else was a star at the festival? EUROPE! The team successfully convinced the European Commission to commit 500 million euros to assist the facilitation of refugees, which was announced on our festival stage. What made this commitment so significant is that it’s in addition to the Commission’s existing Overseas Development Aid budget.

UK Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening was also a star of the show. She reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to women and girls across the world, saying we’ll ensure an additional 6.5 million are able to access an education over the next 5 years.

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The new Global Goals were launched

You (hopefully) have heard us talk A LOT about the Global Goals which were gavelled (yes, gavelled – look it up) into existence by the UN on 25 September 2015. These are 17 Global Goals which have the power to combat the three biggest issues of our time: poverty, inequality and climate change.

We believe that to ensure these Global Goals don’t become yet another government piece of paper, we need as many people as possible to know that they exist, so they can hold their government to account for the promises they’ve made.

So – in partnership with Project Everyone and the World Bank, we used our Global Citizen Festival stage to launch the Global Goals, broadcasting them into 160+ countries, reaching 3.2 billion people. We also convinced a dozen companies to communicate to their about 2 billion customers about the Global Goals – you might have been one of the billions of people who received a Global Goals text message…

This is just the first step, and we’ll need all our global citizens to now make sure these Global Goals are realized.

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We saved the planet

Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but we did manage to get a breakthrough agreement at the COP Summit in Paris in December 2015, which many considered to be our last chance to save the planet.

The day before world leaders met, 785,000 people took to the streets in cities across the world which is the single biggest demonstration against climate change that the world has ever seen. This agreement sets us on a good path to convert to the use of renewable energy – a critical decision if we’re to lower global warming below 2 degrees celsius. Take a read here about why the agreement is such a breakthrough.

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Thank You

We have only achieved this because of you. In order to influence policy, secure vital funding and government commitment, we need a movement of global citizens speaking out for change. Our collective voice is getting louder every year, meaning we’re able to influence decisions and make sure our governments, institutions and business leaders are making the right choices.

Our work isn’t done yet – now that we have the Global Goals, we’re going to need everyone to ensure they are realised. Thank you for being a global citizen in 2015 and we can’t wait to see what we’ll achieve together in the years to come.

This piece is originally posted by global citizen.org 


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Author: akorive001

Bilingual Freelance Writer and Translator

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